The preservation group 10000 Friends of Pennsylvania was one of the few walkability advocates that responded to our requests for help in this matter. Dan Wofford contacted to discuss the situation, but unfortunately because of Pennsylvania’s budget crisis, he and his organization found themselves too distracted to get involved. We lament this crisis as well, but we believe that this is not an issue that concerns Harrisburg. Pennsylvania statue allows municipalities to impose this policy upon us. The language does not seem to require it.
We hadn’t heard from Mr. Wofford in a while, so we reached out one more time. His response in part:
Is that fair – is it good policy? I think that’s a worthy question for us to raise with municipal and state policy makers and elected officials. But it would be misleading for me to say that we could make this issue a top priority. Frankly, in a state that can’t get a budget passed to fund schools and other critical services – pushing even more costs onto to local governments – I think this issue is not likely to find much traction.
As already stated above, we don’t think this concerns Harrisburg. As far as cost, here in Jenkintown, Borough Manager George Locke already presented his estimate for rebuilding all of our sidewalks within one fiscal year — something no one requested — and coincidentally the cost is roughly equivalent to one parking lot.
In other words, the money is already there (or was), but the Council opted to spend it elsewhere.
On balance, I share your position that well-maintained sidewalks in a town or neighborhood are beneficial to everyone and an asset to the whole community, and thus cost of maintenance ought to be shared. As an organization that promotes walkable communities, this is also a logical stance to take.
…At the end of the day, this policy won’t change until large numbers of homeowners and voters organize and advocate for such a change. You mention getting a dozen or so folks to attend a City Council meeting to address this issue. My gut tells me that you need to mobilize and expand that kind of action and do so in a way that becomes almost relentless. So that you cannot be ignored. Such action would also give us more of a basis for putting a spotlight on the growing resistance to these policies and the unfairness of the cost burden.
We believe that Jenkintown makes a perfect beachhead to start this campaign. We’re small and eminently walkable.
…Again, we are willing to examine this issue as part of our commitment to walkability – with eye to seeing if we can’t generate more support for alternative approaches to sidewalk maintenance.
If you agree with us and with Mr. Wofford, please write 10000 Friends and let them know that you too believe it is long past time to change this policy.